Sunday, January 22, 2012

NFL Divisional Playoffs: Which Players Are Using Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers?

Are you ready for some football? Many NFL stars these days don't feel they are unless they've spent some quality time in a hyperbaric chamber, either to recover from sports injuries or to enhance their game performance. We find there's not much clinical evidence to recommend hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for these uses. But to find out which Ravens, Patriots, 49ers, and Giants think differently and routinely use HBOT, or even own chambers, we turn to the Hyperbaric Therapy Center. Here's the lineup:

Baltimore: L.J. Smith and Ray Lewis.
New England: Albert Haynesworth, Herana-Daze Jones, and Shawn Springs.
San Francisco: Madieu Williams, Patrick Willis, Tony Parrish, and Vernon Davis.
New York: Hakeem Nicks and Mathias Kiwanuka.

We cannot confirm this list, and all names and spellings are the Center's. Most or all of these players use zip-up bags, or mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers, as does the Center. Here's what we have to say about mild HBOT on our About HBOT page:

So-called mild HBOT, or mHBOT, is administered in inflatable bags that operate with room air (21% oxygen) at slightly increased pressure (< 1.5 ATA). Some mild hyperbaric devices are FDA-cleared for the treatment of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). None is FDA-cleared to treat any other disease or condition.

In our opinion a mild hyperbaric device cannot safely deliver a therapeutic dosage of pressure. Using medical gases or oxygen concentrators with mild hyperbaric devices may also create a safety hazard. UHMS warns that hyperbaric treatment should not be self-administered or administered by nonprofessionals in the home. Also, we run across too many quacks and fraudsters in the mild HBOT and personal hyperbarics community. Their claims are as wild as their HBOT is mild. Still, many people with many diseases and conditions have reported real health benefits with mHBOT, and we eagerly await the publication of new clinical evidence.

This information echoes the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology (NBDHMT), the chief certifying body for hyperbaric medical technologists. The NBDHMT stresses important safety issues in its April 2011 Position Statement on Portable, Fabric, Low-pressure Hyperbaric Chambers. Safety is of special concern when such devices are used for self-care at home alone.

None of these facts or opinions are stopping mild chamber manufacturers from recruiting NFL players and other sports celebrities to promote their devices for off-label uses. Every day the league and the FDA let it slide. We'll have more to report on this front before Super Bowl Sunday.


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